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Start Your Year Off Well With These January 2019 Books

2019 has officially arrived. With it comes a host of lofty, well-intentioned goals and resolutions. A sampling of mine: This is the year I finally stick to journaling; the year I become a morning person; the year I learn to wrap a present like an adult.
If your 2019 resolution happens to be “read more books,” then you’re in luck – these January debuts will keep you occupied and entranced until next month’s batch. There’s something for everyone. Historical fiction thatimmerses you into another world while simultaneously telling you something about your own (see: Paragon Hotel‘s 1920s Portland, To Keep the Sun Alive‘s Iranian revolution). Thrillers with wild premises (An Anonymous Girl). Fables, feminist dystopias, Pride and Prejudice retellings. Essentially, a ton of good books.
Future Perfect: A Skeptic’s Journey into the Fact, Fiction, and Fraud of Mystics, Victoria Loustalot
January 1

Soon after her long-term relationship ends, writer Victoria Loustalot visits an alarmingly accurate psychic with her friends. After the woman’s predictions come true, Loustalot, once a skeptic, is spurred to further explore the realm of psychics and mediums. Where do they get their gifts? Are said gifts even real? And why are we compelled to seek out these individuals’ in the first place? What ensues is a funny, gripping memoir about a foray into the inexplicable.

An Anonymous Girl, Greer Hendricks
January 8

Meet the first great suspense thriller of 2019. Jessica Farris decides to make some quick money by entering into an NYU psychiatrist’s study about ethics and morality (think the Netflix show Maniac). At first, Jessica is entranced by the chic study leader, Dr. Lydia Shields. Dr. Shields tells Jessica what to wear, how to interact with people. Soon, the increasingly emotionally manipulative experiments start bleeding into Jessica’s personal life. By then, though, it’s too late to stop.

The Water CureSophie Mackintosh
January 8

Where other feminist dystopias like The Handmaid’s Talecreate a society in which women are subjugated, Mackintosh’s The Water Cure goes micro: Lia, Grace, and Sky are three sisters raised in an isolated island under the strange philosophy their mother and father devised. On that island, they are safe from the “toxins” of the world of men — and are made safer by cruel, methodical rituals. Then, soon after King disappears, two men and a boy wash ashore, sending their carefully preserved society into turmoil. Suddenly, that which they were taught was evil is standing before them. And Lia, especially, is hungry for the love she’d never received.

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, edited by Ibi Zoboi
January 8

As Ibi Zoboi says in the introduction of this YA short story anthology, there’s no one way of being Black. Zoboi, an acclaimed author of YA fiction, recruited 16 other Black authors to write about “teens examining, rebelling against, embracing, or simply existing within their own idea of blackness.” The resulting anthology is both thought-provoking and star-studded, with fiction from Jason Reynolds (the Track series), Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles), Nic Stone (Dear Martin), among many others. Together, the voices create a multitude of perspectives of Black teens growing up and into themselves.

Paragon Hotel, Lyndsay Faye
Out January 8

Alice James’ nickname is Nobody. It suits her, since Alice James is on the run. It’s 1921, and Alice has just bolted from New York (and everyone out to get her) for Oregon, where she settles at the city’s only Black-only hotel thanks to a fast friendship with the hotel porter. The hotel’s other residents are initially uncomfortably, as Alice is Welsh-Italian. Still, she’s by their side as they’re rollicked by a tragedy: The disappearance of a young boy just as the KKK presence is rising. Faye crafts a fast-paced mystery that’s also steeped in a fascinating, and unfortunately all too prescient, part of American history. If you ever dressed up as a flapper for Halloween or love to stay up all night reading mysteries, Paragon Hotel is for you.

Ghost WallSarah Moss
January 8

Where do we begin with this remarkable, inventive novella, which does so much in so few pages? In Ghost Wall, Sarah Moss unpacks the toxic patriarchy all without leaving the confines of a teenage girl’s two-week trip to the remote northern edges of England led by her father, a bus driver with a passion for ancient British history, and an archaeology professor interested in recreating the past. Once the men start toying with the idea of recreating ancient rituals, things get dicey. Sylvie may be a smart, clear-voiced narrator – but you’ll still want to rescue her.

To Keep the Sun Alive, Rabeah Gaffari
January 8

From page 1 on, you’ll be deeply invested in the story of a large family affected by the Iranian Revolution in the ’70s. In 2012, when the novel begins, Shazdehpoor is a beggar on the streets of Paris. But back in 1979, he was a member of a wealthy family known for their long outdoor lunches marked by political debate. As tension rises in the country and history starts to happen in real-time, the family’s once-theoretical political discussions become intensely personal. Gaffari’s saga is so evocative you’ll nearly be able to smell the orange trees in the family’s orchard.

Mouthful of BirdsSamantha Schweblin 
January 8

If you’re the kind of person who likes to unwind with a book before bed, this collection of entrancing stories that border on the magical is for you. Schweblin’s imagination seemingly knows no bounds. Her stories include a separated couple finding common ground at their shared horror for their daughter’s hobby, and a community of women abandoned by their lovers. Each story is a snapshot of a strange, uncanny world.

Adèle, Leila Slimani
January 15

If you actually met 35-year-old Adèle Robinson in real life, you would be entranced by her appearance: excellent journalism job, perfect family, glamorous appearance. Lucky for us, we get an inner glimpse of the opaque Parisian woman’s dramatic (and occasionally quite shocking) inner life. Adèle’s schedule is structured in pursuit of one thing: sex, with nearly anyone, at nearly any moment. The novel veers into very interesting territory when Adèle’s husband, Richard, finds out about his wife’s infidelity. After her debut The Perfect Nanny, Slimani once again explores women’s dark impulses with stark prose. You won’t want to look away.

Help Me: One Woman’s Quest to Find Out If Self-Help Really Can Change Your Life, Marianne Power
January 15

Journalist and writer Marianne Power takes self-help seriously in this bold, earnest, and utterly hilarious memoir. For 12 months, Power commits to a different self-help philosophy. So in the month devoted to following the ethos inFeel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Power had to jump out of an airplane and chat up guys on the London Tube (oh, man). You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You might even achieve the level of self-acceptance Power reaches by the end.

You Know You Want This, Kristen Roupenian
January 15

There’s more where “Cat Person” came from. The author of the viral New Yorker story is back with a collection of stories, ranging from the real to the surreal. The stories are united in their theme: the everyday horrors that plague women, as well as the horrors women unleash.

Late in the Day, Tessa Hadley
January 22

Alex, Christine, Lydia, and Zachary are inextricably connected, the way couples who have seen each other pass through life often are. Christine and Lydia, childhood friends, met Zachary and Alex at the same time; after a period of tangled attractions, they settled into two happy marriages.. When Zachary suddenly passes away in his 50s, his widow, Lydia, and their best friends morph around the loss. Most significantly, his death forces Lydia and Alex to confront their dormant feelings for each other. Late in the Day is a domestic drama of the first order. The marriages are characters in themselves; going through transformative arcs of their own.

The Far Field, Madhuri Vijay
January 15

In Madhuri Vijay’s ambitious first novel, we follow 24-year-old Shalini into the Kashmir mountains of India, a region plagued by sectarian violence between Hindus and the area’s Muslim majority, where she hopes to find her dead mother’s long-lost friend. Actually, Bashir Ahmed was her mother’s only friend — only he could get through to Shalini’s hot-tempered, sarcastic mother. Shalini hopes to process her mother’s death in the mountains. But after forging friendships with the villagers, the naive and privileged Shalini ends up causing a domino chain of detrimental effects.

The DreamersKaren Thompson Walker
January 15

How does the world end? In Karen Walker’s fairy tale of an apocalypse story, it ends with a doze. People fall asleep and never wake up. But they keep dreaming. The book features a tantalizing amount of central characters. Walker describes the lives of those still awake, as well as the sleepers’ vivid dreams.

The Weight of a Piano, Chris Cander
January 22

What connects Clara Lundy, 26-year-old orphaned car mechanic living in California, to Katya Zeldin, professional pianist in post-WWII Russia? Two things: Both women needed indomitable strength to get through their lives, and both women happened to own the same rare upright Bluthner piano. Cander interweaves a surprising, time-jumping plot with a deep understanding of her characters’ emotional landscapes. The Weight of a Piano is also an exploration of the healing and cathartic powers of art and music, making it the perfect gift for the creatives in your life.

UnmarriageableSonia Kamal
January 22

In the world of literature, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has become a kind of campfire tale: a story we tell over and over. But Sonia Kamal’s Unmarriageable brings an especially compelling slant to the familiar story. Kamal turns the five Bennett girls of 18th century England into the five Binat girls of modern Pakistan, each longing for their own idea of happiness as their mother longs for them to get married.

Golden Child, Claire Adam
January 29

Golden Child is the second book from of Sarah Jessica Parker’s imprint at Hogarth, and it delivers on expectations. In this tautly plotted novel, Claire Adam conjures up a truly gut-wrenching, morally provocative scenario for her characters. It begins with a break-in. Clyde Deyalsingh and his family, who live together in a remote part of Trinidad, are the targets of a robbery. Not long after, one of Clyde’s twin 13-year-old sons is kidnapped. For reasons that Adam unfolds expertly in the novel, Clyde is forced to grapple with an awful decision. This is a book to argue over.

99% Mine, Sally Thorne
January 29

Sally Thorne’s first book, The Hating Game (2016), was a notable early addition into the rom-com romance genre, which is now booming. 99% Mine is a splendid follow-up. Darcy Barnett has had a crush on Tom Valeska ever since she could remember. But for the past eight years, she was traveling the world (and putting distance between her and her mistakes), and he was in a committed relationship. When she returns home after her grandmother’s death, Tom and Darcy are finally in the same place for the first time since they were 18. Hawkins has a knack for creating memorable women protagonists. You’ll be rooting for Darcy and her shot at long-lasting happiness from the start.

The Falconer, Dana Czapnik
January 29

Remember your moony-eyed, slightly awkward 17-year-old self, hesitantly optimistic for the future and bit overwhelmed by the present? Lucy Adler, the ridiculously endearing high school senior (and ridiculously gifted basketball player) at the center of Dana Czapnik’s debut novel, will take you back to the days of unrequited crushes with cold, cool boys and philosophical conversations with friends on walks home from school. The Falconer is the new definitive New York coming-of-age story — expect to underline many poignant sentences, as well as dreamy descriptions of the city at night.

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The Wolf in the Whale, by Jordanna Max Brodsky
January 29

The trend of mythology re-imaginings is continuing, and we’re delighted. In the Olympus Bound stories, Jordanna Max Brodsky imagined Greek gods living in Manhattan. Now, she turns her focus to the Norse and Inuit gods in the cold Arctic in the year 1000 AD. Omat, who lives on the edge of civilization, is set to be a shaman like her grandfather. Then, famine descends. Determined to save her family, Omat journeys for a solution — and ends up meeting a Viking, who offers up his own set of gods as a solution.

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